A woman with a barbell across her shoulders getting ready to do a front squat.

The best superset exercises and workouts for building muscle

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Supersets aren’t just another fitness buzzword - they can be a useful tool in your workouts. Here are the best workouts using the muscle building technique. 

If you’ve been scrolling through fitness pages on Instagram or following workout videos online, you’ve probably come across a lot of fitness jargon. Hypertrophy? Drop set? What? 

While many training techniques are best reserved for the exercise aficionados who like to get specific with their training, even general gym-goers or those who dabble in home workouts can benefit from making use of supersets. The training technique simply means pairing two exercises back-to-back without rest, not only saving you time, but helping you to build muscle and endurance.

Sound like something you want to use in your training? Here’s how. 

The best superset exercises

There are two main ways to superset: using exercises that target the same muscles or using exercises that target different muscles. “I think that full-body supersets are great for people who are training two or three times a week as it means you hit multiple muscle groups in one session without spending hours in the gym. They also allow you to use relatively heavy weights without over fatiguing any individual muscles,” says Tess Glynne-Jones, strength coach and head trainer at ROWBOTS

However, if you’re training more frequently, using same muscle supersets can cause more damage and therefore increase the speed at which you build muscle

A woman squatting with a kettlebell during a home workout.
Superset workouts can be useful in home workouts and the gym.

Tess also notes that it’s best to avoid supersets if you’re training with heavy compound lifts. “Big lifts like squats or deadlifts will leave you very tired, especially if you’re working with very heavy weights. You won’t then be able to execute another exercise with good performance. In accessory work, or if you are training in a hypertrophy range, of eight-12 reps, you might be working with slightly lighter weights so supersets are useful. They can help you to get more volume in. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t challenge with supersets - just choose the moves carefully,”  she says. 

The best superset workouts

Looking for some examples to take to the gym with you? Try these superset workouts. Perform eight-12 reps of the first exercise (usually the move that recruits the most muscles) before moving straight on to the second exercise (an isolation exercise), then rest for 60-90 seconds. Repeat for three sets, then move onto the next pair. 

Same muscle supersets

Upper body push 

These exercises target the chest, shoulders and triceps

  1. Chest press X tricep extension 
  2. Shoulder press X incline press
  3. Press up X tricep dips

    Upper body pull

    Use all of the muscles in your back and biceps with these moves.

    1. Bent over row X bicep curls
    2. Lat pull-down X reverse fly
    3. Seated row X hammer curls

    Lower body squat

    Move through the squat motions, one of the fundamental movement patterns, to target your quads, glutes and calves.

    1. Front squat X reverse lunges
    2. Split squat X cossack squat
    3. Goblet squat X pistol squat

    Lower body hinge

    Use the muscles in the back of your legs – your hamstrings and glutes.

    1. Hip thrust X Hamstring curl 
    2. RDL X kettlebell swing
    3. Good morning X Glute bridge 

    Full-body supersets 

    Upper/lower pull 

    1. Glute bridge X Renegade row 
    2. Good mornings X Lat pull-down 
    3. Romanian Deadlift X Reverse fly 

    Upper/lower push 

    1. Press-ups X Goblet squat 
    2. Bench press X Reverse lunges
    3. Shoulder press X Leg press 

    Want to learn how to do these moves? Sign up to the Training Club to view our How To videos. 

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    Chloe Gray

    Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).

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